What Are Resources and Why Are They So Important?
Let’s set the groundwork first. For this blog post, we are only considering human resources – the people working on projects – not the facilities you might be using, equipment you might need or funds that need to be available. Of course, these other factors are important, but our primary focus here is on people. Expert employees are your most important resource.
Why is resource management so important? A 2018 study from the Harvard Business Review examined the top barriers to successful strategy implementation. Of course, proper professional project management is important, and you can see that it ranked eighth overall. What’s more important is that typically there are just too many initiatives that we are trying to drive at the same time. With that in mind, how do we manage our resources across all of those initiatives?
It all starts with people. From a theoretical perspective, how is managing people different from managing physical goods? Well, for one, you simply can’t stock employees. For example, you can buy materials in bulk to store in a warehouse and grab whenever you need some. On the other hand, if an employee doesn’t work today or spends their time on something else, that time cannot be stocked to use tomorrow – that time is gone.
In the past, people were viewed as a commodity, a replaceable good. Today, we know that individuals really make a difference. But sometimes a single person, or a small team, can be the bottleneck that slows down the entire organization.
Agile Didn’t Solve This
Even Agile environments are not immune to this. With agile, one of the main goals is to deliver working software, but a key element was introducing independent, cross-functional teams. These may help progress toward the goal, but there are cross-team dependencies to take into account, which means having to wait for other teams to complete their work. And that’s not even considering the regular exchanging of experts between teams.